If you ever doubted that we truly live in the age of insanity, look no further than the unhinged arrogance of our political leaders and the small mindedness of the punditry class. I could pick a thousand instances where the debased—I refuse to call them the elites anymore—have committed acts of depravity so outrageous that their malicious deeds would have led to their unceremonious exit from the public arena and banishment to the hinterlands not too long ago.
Alas, we live in the era of the outlandish, where immoralities are rewarded with a cult following and goodwill towards others is judged as passe by a society that views clapbacks and trolling as national pastimes. Let me focus your attention on two particular incidents from the past 48 hours alone that would have been considered clarifying moments if only we had sober judgment instead of being drunk on sensationalism.
Let me start off with what took place on Tuesday afternoon at the National Security Policy, a symposium hosted by the National Defense University. The event was a discussion about the defense posture of the United States in countering the “growing menace of China and Russia’s nuclear threat” and headlined Deputy Defense Undersecretary David Trachtenberg and U.S. Strategic Commander General John Hyten. They took turns holding court with an audience of defense industry insiders and international correspondents.
What caught my attention and jolted my mind occurred during a Q&A session between Hyten and the audience. When asked by reporter Tom Colina about the DoD’s proposed plans to develop low-yield nuclear Trident warheads and the potential that weapon could have to lower the threshold of an all-out nuclear war with Russia, the answer that General Hyten gave is one that sent shivers down my spine.
“It should not be just go big. Henry Kissinger had a great point..if you don’t have these low yield capabilities, you are putting the president of the United Sates in a position where his only choices are surrender or suicide. We need these capabilities to provide, not surrender not suicide, but provide an appropriate, tailored response to the situation that is there.”
Let me unpack what General Hyten said for those who don’t catch how preposterous his response was. What he attempted to do was present a Goldilocks solution to a scenario that up until recently had been dismissed to all but the Dr. Strangelove crowd. The head of America’s nuclear command just normalized the use of nukes as a conventional weapon. In a world according to General Hyten, we can use a low yield tactical nuclear bomb on Russia and it will not escalate to an all out nuclear Armageddon. It is hard to divorce fools from their rationalized madness. Click To Tweet
The fact that Hyten cited Henry Kissinger is enough for most rational people to understand that we are now fully enmeshed in a web spun by the demented—maniacs quoting psychopaths. There was something else telling about that same exchange General Hyten had with Tom Colina. In response to the question of how would Russia know if the missile coming their way was a low yield nuke apart from the type that could wipe out Moscow, Hyten said “they will find out in 30 minutes”. At this exact moment, the whole room burst out in a collective chuckle. Whether this was nervous laughter or an exercise of group derangement is hard to pinpoint.
The fact that a leading government official just announced a change in a long standing national policy and by extension made the potential of a global nuclear holocaust that much more possible was skipped over by the mainstream media. Instead of Hyten’s delirious comments leading the news, it was not mentioned at all. CNN decided to uphold the principles of journalism by harassing everyday Americans, ambushing people at their homes and accusing citizens of being Russian apparatchiks. The Washington Post decided to lead with Trump’s idiotic weekend Tweets. Fox News and MSNBC decided to be Fox News and MSNBC. This most shocking development, one that could unleash hell upon our planet, was overlooked by the very reporters and journalists who are supposed to a bulwark from this type of consolidated lunacy.
On that same day that General Hyten decided to scuttle the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine that held the Apocalypse at bay and potentially charted a course to what could one day lead to humanity’s mass grave, another development took place that highlights the nutty zeitgeist of our time. Dinesh D’souza lit twitter on fire by assailing the character of the students who went to Tallahassee to demand action from their state representatives.
This most mendacious tweet was sent by a most reprehensible man who has perfected a business model of enraging his haters and inflaming the passions of his supporters. Yet what D’Souza did was not an outlier as much as it is the norm. Pundits, politicians and mainstream media personalities alike have realized that the best way to make money is not to speak to our better angels but to stir up society’s demons. Not a healer among them, the endless stream of “leaders” pushed by corporate media intentionally dabble in antagonizing the public. Whether one is spoken of highly or condemned makes no difference in an era where clicks and eyeballs translate to fortunes.
By the way, I’m not conveying the small minded petulance of D’Souza as a defense of the Parkland High School students ideas, I am writing this article to defend their rights to express their ideas. For the record, I’m not quite sure if handing yet more power to the government is the answer to this most vexing issue of gun violence. One crisis after another keeps being used as a pretext to relinquish our freedoms for a chimera of security to only end up losing both. Moreover, politicizing these gruesome outbreaks of death has a way of covering over the disease that is eating away at America and our planet as a whole as we bicker about symptoms.
Economic inequalities and the dearth of opportunity for a more and more Americans is the root cause for a vast majority of societal ills. This is not to say that the lessening of the gap between the haves and have nots will erase all problems and account for these horrific acts like the carnage in Florida. However, for every student killed in a school by a mass shooter, there are mass bodies that stack up in morgues throughout America that have nothing to do with crazed killers and everything to do with the hopelessness of omnipresent adversity and pervasive indigence.
We should be focused like a laser on economic disparities and the lack of hope that are indenturing a vast majority of Americans into a life of either poverty, continual economic anxieties or both. Instead, we let a gaggle of charlatans and demagogues hijack the conversation as they get on their high horses to feign outrage against the very injustices that is financing their lavish lives. They do so always through partisan lenses. The establishment—including the ones who pretend to be anti-establishment—has deviously splintered America into cauldrons of separable grievances where ideologies and identities are used to drive us apart. They are digging our graves as we argue over tombstones.
Joseph de Maistre once said that every nation gets the government they deserve. The more I observe, the more I realize that Trump and the louts who lead us are nothing more than a mirror to our collective ids. I say this at the risk of victim blaming because we did not arrive at this age of insanity without being conditioned through mass propaganda and continuous disinformation by the very people we entrust with power. But at some point, we have to stop complaining and get to changing our circumstances. The next time a national tragedy strikes, instead of running to our safe places and throwing firebombs against those who don’t think or look like us, maybe we can actually start to have rational discussions about a way forward and have conversations instead of rants.
It used to be said that youth was wasted on the young. The debased are showing us daily that wisdom is being wasted by old fools. These same people we look up to as our leaders are leading us to the abyss. The time has come for us to realize that fame and fortunes do not translate to wisdom and good judgment. To the contrary, those who amass vast treasures and attain status are usually the most depraved among us. Hyten and D’Souza are prime examples of what can go wrong when people let vanity and bravado invert their moral compass. #AgeOfInsanity
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” ~ George Orwell
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.